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Have A Heart


I had a glimpse of the extent to which people are concerned about other people’s health and well-being when my 85-year-old grandfather was in hospital. Having retired as a professor, and a very popular one too, and being a speaker on spiritual matters, he has a horde of well-wishers. He has a characteristic sense of humor which dispels even the faintest suggestion of a generation gap, thus endearing him to his former students.

With this halo of popularity, my grandfather, quite obviously, could not escape the multitude of visitors who thronged the hospital room during visiting hours. In fact, at least a couple of persons, who I came across in the corridor, asked me if there was a celebrity in the room. Few of the visitors came and left with only a word of cheer and prayer for his speedy recovery. The majority was more ‘concerned’. We had to request the hospital authorities for an extra table to hold the bouquets, fruits and snacks the visitors brought.

On the second evening of his hospitalization, a couple arrived as soon as the hospital gates were flung open to visitors. They had brought a basket-full of mangoes. The lady, who was in her late forties, looked the ‘society’ type, for whom spiritualism and yoga are the ‘in’ things. She told my grandfather how yoga had helped her aunt to survive four heart attacks. Her husband endorsed her opinion obediently.

Meanwhile, another elderly couple came in. They had brought a box of ‘pedhas’. I’m sorry to see you in hospital, “ the man said, “but, very frankly, I feel that you should quit all these drugs and try nature cure. There is a nature cure center near Pune.”

“It is true that these allopaths are poisoning him with their powerful drugs,” said an ex-student of my grandfather’s, who had entered silently and, having placed a packet of cookies at his bedside table, was talking quite professionally. “But, as a practicing ayurvedic physician, I am quite certain that if Professor wants his heart to come back to normal, there is nothing like Ayurveda. Nothing.”

By this time, the little room was quite full. An old friend of my grandfather’s had burst in with: “Man, I came to know only this morning that your heart has misbehaved and brought you to the hospital.” He shot me an accusing “why-the-hell-did-you-not-inform-me-earlier” look. How many times have I told you to eat onions. If you had listened to my advice, you will now be standing on a rostrum and expounding ‘Geetopadesam’. Well, it’s never too late. Start one onion twice daily after meals, and say goodbye to heart attacks.”

“I still feel that yoga is the best remedy,” pouted the ‘society’ lady, disapproving of the onion lobbyist.

“Yoga is only a facet of the entire system of nature cure,” said the naturopathy enthusiast. “It’s only nature cure that can cure a defective heart. In fact…”

I beg to disagree,” the ayruvedic doctor, interposed, “Nature cure may be good for younger heart patients, but Professor is over eighty.”

This was followed by an uncomfortable silence. My grandfather, who had just been smiling all along, finally spoke: “It’s nice to see so much kindness and sympathy. I shall definitely cherish your advice when I get a heart attack. But, you see, my present problem is a gastric ulcer.”

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